Do Refs take bad blood into account?

Submitted by StephenRKass on October 18th, 2011 at 2:20 PM

I'm curious to what degree referees take the history of two teams into account in how they call a game. When there is a lot of tension and aggression, and a history of dirty play either between two teams, or from at least one of them, don't the referees pay attention? More specifically, especially given the coach comments out of MSU calling for "60 minutes of unnecessary roughness," I could see next year's game between MSU and Michigan called much more tightly. I'd imagine that behind closed doors, several refs are hearing about their failure to eject Gholston or to keep an eye out for what happened.

I don't know whether Gholston, Worthy, or Rush will be playing for MSU next year. However, if they are still on the team, isn't it possible that the officiating crew will be instructed to keep a close eye on them and not to let the game get out of hand?

If that were the case, I could see an automatic ejection from the game for a punch, or helmet twist, or arm bar, etc., in addition to a 15 yard personal foul penalty and automatic first down. If they lose too many players that way, it is Sparty being Sparty, helping Michigan to win the game and calling Dantonio to task for not better coaching and policing his own team.

I'd like to hear from a ref or two on this.



October 18th, 2011 at 2:46 PM ^

Coming from a soccer refereeing background you try to not influence the game. That being said, it is necessary to set the tone early in a game to ensure it does not get out of hand. For you metro-detroiters out there, I was head ref in a game between the Michigan Hawks and Bloomfield Force U17 girls game. These are arguably two of the top programs in the state. They are not friends. This game will get out of hand very quickly if you do not let the players know early what they can and cannot do. In essence you call the game tighter at the beginning and, if the players are being good, youy let them play a little more. The main thing is to let the game be played without influencing it. Rough play is okay, but you have to keep it in line. Players know how far they can go before they get carded/ sent off. I think Ghoulston and his teammates knew they had essentially a free pass to do what they wanted, though they would get flagged but not kicked off. There is a distinct difference here. When a player knows they will not be sent off, only slightly penalized (15 yards in this case, a free kick in soccer), their play becomes much more aggressive. Once a game reaches this point, it is nearly impossible to get control back of the game. I think that is why the refs RAN off the field at the end of the MSU-UM game on Saturday. 


October 18th, 2011 at 2:46 PM ^

I'm not a football official, but I have refereed hundreds of organized hockey games (amateur level) over the past eight years. Obviously that isn't anything close to a primetime game experience with scouting reports like we see for MSU-Michigan.

HOWEVA, you just need to remember that referees are human. They hear stories about MSU and Michigan, they watch SportsCenter, everything. Whether this affects the actual job done on the field likely depends more on the individuals than anything else. A lot of times you'll hear "home team likes to...whatever" and just like anyone else, that probably results in a little bit of looking for that.

Relevant to this week: there has probably been a big fuss made over ejections, unsportsmanlike conduct and attempt to injure penalties within the B1G officiating and off-field supervisory ranks. I wouldn't be surprised to see this emphasized. Think about it this way, if your boss said in a meeting "we're doing great on the programming but these TPS reports need to get better or people are going to be in trouble" don't you think the TPS reports would get better the next week?


October 18th, 2011 at 2:46 PM ^

I can tell you that bad blood is definitely a factor in how a game is officiated. Especially at that level (at least in soccer) the referees have an extensive pregame meeting where they go over each teams tendencies, star players, tactics, trouble players, etc. When two teams match up in a game you know will be heated good referees will do alot of things intended to settle the players down, try to be preventative in terms of late hits or dirty play, and in general just focus on stuff like that more.


October 18th, 2011 at 3:13 PM ^

That chart, which shows MSU with 16 PF or roughing the passer penalties over the past 5 MSU-UM games would likely be required reading for next year's officials in A2.  Too bad they did not appear to know about it prior to this year's game at MSU......


October 18th, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

It happens in baseball all the time.  If there's a nasty take out slide the night before.  If that player gets hit or thrown at, teams will be warned.

Likewise, in the vs Verlander - Texas confrontation, the umpires will be on high alert especially when Cruz is at the plate after he may or may not have shown him up..


October 18th, 2011 at 4:26 PM ^

I think you could make a very compelling case that the refs who did last week's game, should themselves be held accountable and not do any more B1G games for the remainder of the year.

Most of us have seen enough sports to know that when you have two teams known to "hate" each other, the refs have to take control of the game and take it early or all hell will break loose.  Last week, after a couple of PF's, MSU should have  been warned that an ejection would happen the next time a flagrant PF takes place.  No ref wants to unduly influence the outcome of a game. but when an opposing team's player's safety is involved, you need to make the hard choice.



October 18th, 2011 at 4:30 PM ^

After Narduzzi's comments, I would imagine that Wiscy has already called the league office and the refs are on Sparty alert.  I think it is safe to say that refs will be watching for anything remotely resembling dirty play against Wiscy.  

I also think they will have forgotten all about it by next year.  Unless, of course, Brady Hoke contacts the league office during game week.


October 18th, 2011 at 5:19 PM ^

with publicly exulting in the bloodbath after the fact. I'm quite happy if they want to take on the New Thug U rep, but you have to believe someone upstairs is screaming for them to stop. 


October 18th, 2011 at 4:55 PM ^

So, I only work High School games here in Florida.  Our crew does a quick team review and during our pre-game we discuss any findings.  Some teams and coaches do have reputations and we discuss how we will control the game if a fight or other incident occurs.

This "enforcement" is highly variable based on the crew.  I have been on crews where this has gone too far in my opinion and we have waved off penalties to prevent riots and or excessive hosilities and called questionable penalties to even out the emotions....or called offsetting personal fouls.

You have NO IDEA how scary it can get on the field...I am 6' 1" 250 and a 16 year US Army Veteran, deployments in Afganistan and Iraq among others...I have been more scared on the field than while deployed at times.

After the game we are met on the field by County Sherrifs and escorted off the field as fast as possible...


So, yes officials do discuss and sometimes "manage" games by throwin very early PF penalties to set the tone.


October 19th, 2011 at 1:54 AM ^

I think that it all depends if its one-sided or not. If both teams are going at each other recklessly then there may be a bit more let go. If one team is deliberately taking shots at another the refs typically try and control the other team (semi-happened with lots of penalties)